The potential new owner of North America's oldest injection molding firm quietly has assembled a diverse group of plastics firms in the United States and Canada.
Paritosh M. Chakrabarti, owner, president and chief executive officer of Stockertown, Pa.-based PMC Group Inc., isn't finished yet. In addition to Summit Plastic Solutions Inc. and its Pro Corp. factory in Florence, Mass., Chakrabarti is eyeing four or five more potential acquisition candidates.
``We will make one or two acquisitions in the next 12 months,'' he said.
PMC Group most recently acquired the business assets of bankrupt custom injection molder Lenco Co. in Waverly, Neb. In February PMC bid $13.5 million in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., to buy Lenco assets, but no liabilities.
``The money we paid was to take care of primary lenders,'' including its secured lender, Finova Capital Corp.'s Chicago office, Chakrabarti said. ``As in all bankruptcies, the creditors lose.''
Chakrabarti, 57, began buying companies in late 1994, focusing on technology and creating value and a faith in employer-employee loyalty.
He envisions building technology-based performance ``platforms'' and establishing a ``formidable presence'' in plastics, additives and reinforcement materials.
``I haven't started building [in the latter category] yet,'' he said.
Chakrabarti received a doctorate in science from Calcutta University in India, then taught chemistry at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, in 1965, and at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Mich., in 1969. He attended Harvard University's advanced management program.
He was technical director of chemical products at GAF Corp. for a decade, and held research and development positions from 1982-94 with PPG Industries Inc., lastly as corporate vice president of science and technology.
He left PPG, buying a color- and flame-retardant-concentrate unit that the firm wanted to divest in October 1994. The division, now Polymer Products Co. Inc., makes plastic flame-retardant compounds and concentrates and anti-static concentrates at its 78,000-square-foot Stockertown facility.
In August 1995, Chakrabarti acquired Crystal Soap and Chemical Co., a Lansdale, Pa., specialty chemical unit from Huntington Laboratories in Huntington, Ind. Now known as Crystal Inc.-PMC, the outfit makes wax blends, slab dips, cable-fill compounds and defoamers for the rubber, food, cosmetic and chemical processing industries at its 55,000-square-foot plant.
A third buy in January 1996 added calendering and extrusion capabilities. It involved the calendered rigid PVC film plant of Canadian Occidental Petroleum Ltd., which had prior-year sales of C$20 million (US$14.6 million), mainly in commodity PVC films for thermoforming.
The operation, PMC Film Canada Inc., is in Tottenham, Ontario. PMC started up its second calendering line in September, initially at 25 percent of capacity but aiming to reach full capacity by year-end. Hermann Berstorff GmbH of Hannover, Germany, supplied the five-roll calender.
The plant could add to that calendering capacity as early as next year, Chakrabarti said.
In addition, PMC Film Canada is installing a one-of-a-kind polyester cast-film extrusion line to produce specialized films and ``should be able to use recycled PET'' for pharmaceutical applications, he said. A Berstorff unit is supplying the equipment.
At year-end 1996, the Stockertown, Lansdale and Tottenham subsidiaries and PMC Group employed close to 200, he said.
The 1997 Lenco acquisition added precision injection molding to PMC's capabilities, providing 50 machines with clamping forces of 80-1,000 tons. Immediately, PMC added five more presses to support annual automated output of 175 million unloaded audio cassettes, including for the fast-growing books-on-tape segment.
``We are running flat out,'' he said. ``Molds are made outside because we can't make them fast enough,'' he added, even though Lenco Inc.-PMC has a full-service mold shop at its 120,000-square-foot plant.
About 65 percent of Lenco's output goes to the tape business, with the rest going into medical and food container applications.
``We will move heavily into medical and electronic molding'' but ``won't strangle the tape business,'' he said. In a couple years, Chakrabarti said he expects the ratio to even out to 50-50.
A Class 10,000 clean room, a remnant of an earlier foray into floppy disk production, will help in capturing medical molding work, he said.
PMC Group may launch an initial public offering in late 1998 or 1999, selling about 25 percent of its stock to net ``enough cash to make a giant acquisition,'' he said.
Meanwhile, the firm plans by November or December to identify a location for a corporate headquarters, and is considering several Philadelphia-area sites.
The owner's wife, Srimati Chakrabarti, is vice president of corporate affairs, and their older son, Debtosh, is marketing manager.
PMC Group sales will be about $100 million by year-end, Chakrabarti said.
PMC bid $5.2 million for Summit Plastic Solutions, filing the offer Sept. 19 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Worcester, Mass. The court has scheduled an Oct. 15 hearing to consider all offers.